TFC: Stature over substance

GARETH WHEELER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 4:04 PM ET

One point from three matches during a stretch head coach Chris Cummins labeled as the defining games of Toronto FC's season is not good enough.

A tie or loss in Puerto Rico Tuesday, eliminating TFC from the CONCACAF Champions League would go down as a massive failure.

That, however, depends on where the organization's priority lay for this campaign.

Is the CCL priority numero uno, or is it making the playoffs, or rather growth from a business perspective?

Surely, in a perfect world, success in all areas would be achieved.

That's not happening -- success on all fronts has been a challenge, with the exception of the latter.

Moves like bringing in Dwayne De Rosario show TFC's desire to compete.

But failing to address other vital positions on the field leaves much to be desired.

Director of Soccer Mo Johnston has until Aug. 15 to use the transfer window to improve his side. Any moves at this point seem unlikely.

The club has claimed the playoffs are the goal in '09, but a more realistic possibility is a winning team two years from now.

IMPORTANT STRETCH

Hence, the willingness to play a high-profile friendly Friday against Real Madrid, in the heart of the most important stretch of the season.

This isn't to say TFC doesn't have a chance at the playoffs -- they still have enough talent to snatch vital points here and there to make the stretch run exciting. And yes, a win in Puerto Rico would not be surprising either. TFC is a superior team.

But there's no denying it at this point, Friday's friendly is what TFC and their ownership is all about. The message being sent is stature over substance and that's disconcerting.

To be fair, who wouldn't want to see Real Madrid in an intimate setting? Real Madrid's $337-million shopping spree on seven transfers at least draws some kind of interest to the casual observer, regardless how much time the stars stay on the field.

But once again, the opportunity for TFC to show appreciation to a fan-base and/or draw in new fans has fallen by the wayside in favour of making money.

GAME UNNECESSARY

The game will be entertaining but is unnecessary. And it is a cash-grab -- reports predict MLSE will make over $3 million on the game, even with the cost of bringing in a grass field.

And charging $15 to watch Real Madrid practice is insulting. It's a practice people! Charging is ridiculous. But what do you expect when a corporation owns a team; where profit margins and the bottom-line takes precedence.

This isn't to say ownership isn't committed to winning. MLSE will open its pocketbooks when deemed necessary.

But until shameless cash-grabs are rid of in favour of proper personnel, tactical, and organizational moves to vastly improve the product and team on the field, ownership will be open to criticism.

TFC notes

Danny Dichio should be starting, not playing a total of five minutes in the last two games ... Chad Barrett is wearing out his welcome with TFC. Saturday's sending off might be Cummins' breaking point to keep the erratic forward on the bench ... Cummins should consider changing his formation, employing a back three, with Adrian Serioux and Marvell Wynne marking, with Nick Garcia dropping back in a sweeping role. This will help disguise Garcia's lack of pace and struggles in marking ... Julian de Guzman turning down TFC shouldn't have surprised anyone. Johnston has had de Guzman pinpointed as his Designated Player for quite some time, but a plan B acquisition should be in place to help TFC short-term before de Guzman joins his hometown side down the road.

GARETH.WHEELER@SUNTV.CANOE.CA


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